How long does the newbie acceleration curve last? (Read 338 times)

    I've been thinking about this lately.  Over the last year I've made some pretty good progress in my running.  My last few races have all been around 1 minute per mile faster than the same race the previous year, but I think that gap is going to start shrinking pretty soon.


    The big question is, how long with this continue?  I realize the answer is a resounding, "It all depends", so I would be curious if some of you could give me your experience along these lines.


    I'm just a little discouraged right now because secretly, I thought when I started logging these 55 and 60 mile weeks the last several months I would start getting even faster.  Now that I've got those higher mileage weeks in the books, I'm not sure how much benefit they really ended up being.  I know I needed them to complete the marathon I've got coming up, but my goal 45 minute 10K this year still seems a long way off, maybe even out of reach before the end of the year.


    I'm planning on cycling back into a 35 to 40 mile per week routine after the marathon is over and starting some 10K specific training, but my gut feel says it's looking more like 47 minute 10K's in my near future rather than 45 minute 10K's.   Once I get out of marathon mode and start focusing a little more on speed work will I suddenly get me speed back (what little I had) and have a chance to go sub 45 on a 10K?


    Thanks, Nathan

    Age: 49 Weight: 202 Height: 6'3" (Goal weight 195)

    Current PR's:  Mara 3:14:36* (2017); HM 1:36:13 (2017); 10K 43:59 (2014); 5K 21:12 (2016)

      Aerobic development takes forever.  I started running about 5 years ago, I've been doing roughly the same training cycles for the last 4 years....I'm still getting faster.  Stick with it, it takes time.

      Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

        A guy I started running with 9 years ago is just starting to hit that now..... he's doing 2:17 marathons these days and zeroing in on a spot in the olympics for Canada, I think.


        I went through 1 cycle and hit 9:33 3000m just over a year over starting..... then kind of stalled. He kept pushing his training and kept getting faster - 2 years in to running we weren't that far apart, 17:30 5K for him, 18:00 flat for me.


        He's younger than me, and I'm 10 years younger than you, but improvement can keep happening.


        60 mile weeks focusing on 10K will get you faster than 40 mile weeks. Just sayin.....

          10 years and, I think, still counting.

          - Joe

          We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.

          Feeling the growl again

            You need to give it more than 2-3 months for the improvements due to those higher mileage weeks to show up.  First you need to acclimate to them, then your body will adapt and use that extra ability to improve and you will see the benefits.  It may take another cycle (3-4 months) for that work to reap dividends.


            Improvement for a real newbie is usually steady and significant.  Over time, it will become more sporadic and occur in fits and starts.


            A summary of my personal journey:

            1990 - started running fairly regularly (age 12)

            1990-1994 - steady, pretty rapid improvement (>27min 2-mile down to 19:37 5K)

            1995-1996 - more rapid improvement as I started training more (19:37 5K to 17:23 in one year, then 17:01 in another year)

            1996-1998 - stagnation.  No improvement.  Training more (college team)

            1999 - work paid off, 10K down from ~36 to 34:18

            2000 - no improvement

            2000-2003 - progressively increased training load; rapid improvement (10K down from 34:18 to 32:09, 2:29 marathon, 1:10 HM)

            2004-2005 - stagnant to somewhat backward movement

            2006 - 30:57 10K, 1:09 HM, 2:28 marathon; reset all PRs within 4-month period


            After that doesn't count because I declined due to lack of training like I had before.  But as you can see, there were several periods where I was certainly training hard and not really getting anywhere, then all of a sudden I'd see a cycle where I would improve quite a bit.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


            I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills



              I "re-started" to run in 2006-2007.

              2008: OBX marathon- 5:12 hours, average training pace 12:00 min/mile

              2009: Marine Corps Marathon-- 4:35 hours, average training pace around 11:00 min/mile

              2011: Buffalo Marathon-- 4:25 hours, average training pace 10:00 min/mile

              2012: 26.2 with Donna-- 4:15 hours, average training pace around 10:00 min/mile

              2013: Georgia Publix Marathon, average training pace 9:30/9:45 min/mile


              Now running on average 9:15-9:30 min/mile long runs, sub 9:00 on anything 5-15 miles.  Hoping for a sub-4:00 soon, and next up Boston Qualifier.  Biggest factor is a 15-20 pound weight loss between 2011 and 2013 and going from averaging 35-45 miles per week to 55-65 miles per week.  Going to do a major dietary shift this summer, hopefully that will make a huge difference too.




              Half: 1:48 (March 3rd, 2013)

              Full: 4:05:40 (March 17th, 2013)


              2013/2014 Goals:

              Sub-4:00 hour Marathon

              Sub- 125 pounds
              Sub- 1:45 hour half.

                What a great thread.  I have been wondering the same thing!   PS. Holy biscuits on your recent weeks of higher mileage!  Big jump.


                My personal story (will keep it short), I was stuck at about a 23:30 5K for the longest time.  I have only been running 2 years and the 5K time stuck there around 23 to 24 minutes.  I decided to ramp up mileage for a 24 hour race level of effort, so after 4 months of higher mileage (visible in charts), even though I was focusing more on distance than speed, my 5K time dropped to 21:30ish.   For me at least, a 19.59 PR in the 5K actually seems possible.


                I retire in 3 weeks, so that basically means that my main life focus will change from 1) family 2) job 3) running to 1) family 2) running!  IE.  I will have much time to run as many miles as my body can handle and greatly up my weekly mileage.  Plan is to bump from 40ish MPW to 60+ MPW if my body will tolerate it.  --- Will know the results of that effort by the fall season (I run better in cooler weather).


                ---I did find out a couple things though:  1)  It was hard to ever cut back on the mileage, even for a week.  Once I got committed to higher mileage, I couldn't taper.  and this leads to 2)  My PR in a 5K race was set when an injury (cut on my foot not from running) forced me to take it really easy for about a week. Minimal mileage only per day.  -- When the foot was (partially) healed well enough to run on, I blew out my previous PR in the 5k by a good margin.  So for you, I think if you can 'taper" and rest your body for a week with lower mileage, that is the perfect lead-in to what would likely be a PR effort in your next 5K!

                The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞


                  I read somewhere that runners who start later in life tend to keep improving for quite some time, hopefully that's true.


                  My running blog

                  Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon 2:56:46!!

                    10 years and, I think, still counting.


                    +1. I'm in my 10th year (started at 38), and so far I have PRed at some distance every year (this year so far, 12 hour and marathon). But definitely improvement was most rapid in the first year.

                      I turn 60 this year. I've been PRing in distances from 5K to Half  for the past few years. I hope to figure out how to 'race' instead of just 'long run' a marathon someday. I've been running consistent mileage since 2007-2008. Before that, it was on and off for many years. I enjoy seeing my own improvement in races, but my main reason for running is to put off needing any cardiac medications.


                      Skirt Runner

                        Been wondering this myself. In six months of running I've taken 8.5 minutes off my 5K time, PRing each 5K after my first by 3-4 minutes sometimes, with only a month or 6 weeks between sometimes. I know it is not reasonable to expect to take 8.5 more minutes off in the next 6 months, but I have no idea what IS actually reasonable!

                        PRs:   5K- 28:16 (5/5/13)      10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13)    4M- 41:43 (9/7/13)   15K- 1:34:25  (8/17/13)    10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14)     HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)     Full- 5:55:33 (11/1/15)


                        I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to


                          You could plot your PRs over time. The improvement curve will likely be asymptotic. As the curve flattens out, you'll know you're getting close to your plateau. Whether that's your true best or whether you need to change your training load, that's something to explore.

                            Asymtote-2-3 years.

                            I started at 56 years old, it will vary depending on several factors such as how long you were inactive before starting to run and whether you use your increasing fitness to train more or are constrained from this by time or other factors.

                            PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                                10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.


                              Some people are answering a different question than the one being asked. There's a difference between being on the newbie improvement curve and being able to make any progress ever even after periods of stagnation.


                              When I think of the newbie improvement curve, I'm thinking of those formerly non-runners who start training consistently for the first time in their lives who PR every time they race, often by a lot. That lasts, I dunno, 1-3 years?--it kind of depends how out of shape you were to begin with, what your ultimate potential is, and how seriously you train and whether you can continue to progress in your training. In other words "it depends."

                              Runners run.

                                Thanks for the input everyone.  I realize that it is something that is unique to each individual and that shows up in the responses.


                                There are folks like Dtothe2nd who has made amazing progress in a short time and another good example is Jodi who has made measured steady progress over several years.


                                I'm thinking I'm going to end up closer to Jodi than Dtothe2nd, but then I bet most people are going to since Dtohe2nd seems to be a freak.  I also realize the more mileage I run the more quickly I will improve, but I'm going to have to cut back on my mileage a bit to keep the wife happy.


                                I think I may have to accept the fact that I will never be clicking off 7:00 miles as my easy run pace no matter how long I keep running.  I just need to keep at it and work toward being able to click off 6.2 miles at a 7:15 pace during a race to meet my personal goal.

                                Age: 49 Weight: 202 Height: 6'3" (Goal weight 195)

                                Current PR's:  Mara 3:14:36* (2017); HM 1:36:13 (2017); 10K 43:59 (2014); 5K 21:12 (2016)